Archive for October, 2008

30
Oct
08

Cool Replicas – Part 6: Zar’roc

Happy Halloween!!! I thought I’d end the week, and my short miniseries on well constructed replicas, with a look at an excellent fan made replica weapon sent in by reader Hector E. None other than Zar’roc from the book turned movie, Eragon:

Zarroc

Zar'roc

[click image to view full size]

Some of you may remember a prior post, many moons ago on another version of Zar’roc, which had a beautiful blade, but a hilt that could, at best, be described as “toylike”. Hector was kind enough to point me to a site sporting a much more accurate, custom made version.

Zarroc

Zar'roc

[click image to view full size]

As you can see, this ain’t no kids toy. In fact, this replica has been approved by Christopher Paolini, the author of the book Eragon, upon which the movie is based. And I can see why.

Zarroc - Hilt Side

Zar'roc - Hilt Side

[click image to view full size]

If you are a fan of the book, you will notice that, in contrast to the other Zar’roc replica, this one actually has a red pommel, instead of the blue one, which, while movie accurate, is not at all true to the book.

Ok, so it’s not quite a ruby, but at the very least it is red, instead of a blue sapphire, which is a significant improvement over the movie replica. I really don’t see why the movie makers decided to take that particular kind or artistic liberty with the design, as it seems to be a trivial and unnecessary change, but I’m not a movie maker either…

Zarroc - Red Ruby Pommel

Zar'roc - Red Ruby Pommel

[click image to view full size]

But there are other changes. In the book, not only did Zar’roc carry a large, tear shaped red ruby in it’s pommel, but it also sported a silver wire wrapped grip. The movie version is wrapped in black leather. The Silver wire grip is yet another feature faithfully reproduced in this replica.

Down to the guard, oh, my… what a guard it is! A beautiful organic sliver of steel tipped with a pair of downward pointing, claw like ends. Quite the menacing piece of steel.

Zarroc - Hilt

Zar'roc - Hilt

[click image to view full size]

And then we come to the glorious red blade. Almost a candy apple red, with a short inverted spade shaped ricasso, that flows into a beautiful slim, straight, double edged sword, it’s quite the looker.

Zarroc - Ricasso

Zar'roc - Ricasso

[click image to view full size]

All of this crimson steel, eventually angles it’s way inwards to a rather keen looking, narrow wedge shaped point, at the business end of the weapon. And boy does it mean business:

Zarroc - Crimson Sword Point

Zar'roc - Crimson Sword Point

[click image to view full size]

Now this is what I call a replica. Making the vision of the original artist become reality. Absolutely all kinds of sweetness incarnate. In fact, this sword almost looks good enough to eat…

You know, drizzle a little more caramel on that blade, and… Nom… 🙂

Zar’roc – [Shur’tugal]

28
Oct
08

Cool Replicas – Part 5: Himura Kenshins’ Sakabato

Another day, another cool sword. Today, a sword suggested by reader Heero, the Sakabato (Reverse bladed Sword) of Himura Kenshin, key protagonist of the manga and anime series Rurouni Kenshin.

Himura Kenshin, was formerly a highly skilled assassin, called “Hitokiri Battōsai”. Hitokiri literally translates to “manslayer”. And while “Battōsai” has no direct meaning, there is a Japanese art called “Battōjutsu” which teaches the correct technique for drawing, cutting with, and sheathing a sword, much like Iaidō.

However while Iaidō deals primarily with the process of correctly drawing, cutting and sheathing techniques, Battōjutsu takes it a step further and teaches techniques for *multiple cuts* before resheathing. So together, the name “Hitokiri Battōsai” is perhaps one of the most ominous combinations you could ever have.

And the name was not undeserved. During his time as an assassin, Himura Kenshin he was considered an unbeatable warrior, killing many, many people, until one day he decides that he has done enough killing.

He becomes a rurouni, a renegade former assassin, who wanders the countryside helping people in trouble, to atone for his murderous past. Hence the name: Rurouni Kenshin. Once a rurouni, Kenshin meets a renowned Japanese swords smith called Arai Shakku, who has also decided to start making weapons for protection rather than killing, and it is he who gives the Sakabato to Kenshin.

I thought it was a cool, if a little cliched, story. The sword, however differentiates this from similar stories. I present Himura Kenshins Sakabato:

Himura Kenshins Sakabato

Himura Kenshins Sakabato

[click image to view full size]

From the intro pic, you can see that this is a beautiful, though not particularly noteworthy sword, except for one thing. The edge is on the inside of the curve of the blade, as opposed to the outside. This is a symbolic feature, intended to externally show that it’s wielder is a pacifist, and that the sword is not intended for lethal combat.

However the Sakabato poses a rather interesting structural question. The curve on a katana is a result of differential heat treatment, that makes the front edge of the blade hard, but leaves the spine flexible. During the tempering process, the front edge expands, while the spine does not, which results in the signature curve.

Thus a traditionally heat treated Sakabato is technically a rather complex feat. Since only the heat treated edge of a blade will expand, a sword would never curve in the direction of the edge, only away from it. So the only way a sakabato could be traditionally be made would be to forge an exaggerated reverse curve into the blade, *before* heat treating.

The curve would have to be enough to not only compensate for the resulting straightening that would occur during the heat treatment of the edge, but also still have enough curve left over for it to retain it’s signature Katana curve. It would take a very experienced smith to know exactly how much curve to forge into the blade.

Perhaps that was the point. Perhaps successfully pulling off a Sakabato was the signature of a master swordsmith, and made it the ultimate pacifists weapon. Hmm. That’s cool an all, but I could think of better solutions. Like don’t use a sword at all, just use something else. Like a Louisville slugger. Maybe in steel.

But that’s just my practical side speaking.

Anyway, cool plot lines and metallurgical complexities aside, this replica is actually one of the nicer ones I’ve seen in a long while. From the simple black circular tsuba, to the gold accent on the pommel, it is a very accurate, and very well put together, sword.

With quality fittings, real ray skin and cord wrapped tsuka, full tang carbon steel blade with dual mekugi, this is not only very well crafted, but a beautiful and sturdy design, intended to be dismantled and maintained in the traditional fashion:

Sakabato - Tsuka

Sakabato - Tsuka

[click image to view full size]

But while modern metallurgy might allow us to get away with a reverse bladed sword, without any of the mechanical hassles that would be associated with traditional metal working, I still would not advise any careless swinging of such a weapon. You never know, reverse blades may still have anomalous physical properties…

It might cut a hole in the fabric of space and time, and the tip may slice through, come out the other side and whack you in the back of the head. No, seriously, you gotta be careful with these kinds of things. Trust me, I’m a Balrog, I would know.

Hey, don’t roll your eyes at me, I’m just saying… K, fine. Suit yourself. Just make sure you bequeath your Sakabato to me in your will…

Yeah, It’s Phyreblade. P-H-Y-R…

What?

Himura Kenshins Sakabato – [True Swords]

26
Oct
08

Cool Replicas – Part 4: Sandai Kitetstu

Today, we continue my temporary departure from the usual practice of lamenting the tendency for mediocrity that is often displayed by the collectors cultery industry, (wow that was a mouthful!!) to look at another rather nicely reproduced anime weapon.

Sandai Kitetsu - Third Generation Demon Splitter

Sandai Kitetsu - Third Generation Demon Splitter

[Click to view full size]

This is the Sandai Kitetsu, third Generation Demon splitter, and one of the swords wielded by the sword happy protagonist Roronoa Zolo (AKA Zoro) from the anime One Piece. I can only assume he got that name because the creators of the series thought it would be fitting, given his skill with the sword, to name him after the legendary Zorro.

You know. The legendary Mexican sword freedom fighter with the gay *cough* blade… Gay, in this instance, meaning lively, quick, flashy, etc… Yeah. Just thought I’d clarify. Oh, no, no, no, you’re welcome. Things have certainly changed a lot since the 1980s. But I digress…

Anyway, this Zoro is a pirate. Though he was formerly a bounty hunter, and is an honorable man, with exceptional sword fighting skills, who just happened to fall into an unfortunate situation. He generally carries three swords with him.

However this one I found particularly interesting because, first and foremost, it has a black blade (of course!). But it also just so happens to be a Kitetsu, a cursed blade, that is said will eventually bring a horrible death to it’s wielder. Though you can kind of tell, just by looking at it, it’s a rather mean sword. With a mind of it’s own. Zoro, however, does not seem to mind. My kind of guy… 🙂

Physically, this sword is actually of a fairly standard design, no really unique features, beyond the black on stainless steel blade. However it’s real beauty lies in the details:

Sandai Kitetsu - Tsuba

Sandai Kitetsu - Tsuba

[click image to view full size]

You can see from the detail of the tsuba, the quality of the fit and finish on this sword is very good. Certainly better than some I have seen that cost a lot more. And then theres the Tsuka:

Sandai Kitetsu - Tsuka

Sandai Kitetsu - Tsuka/Saya

[click image to view full size]

An interesting variation of the standard design. Instead of the fully cord wrapped grip, we have a grip that is covered, top and bottom, the same way the saya is, with what appears to be a laquered wood sections. In the middle we have the traditional black cord over rayskin wrapping, with metal bands transitioning between the two.

Another interesting departure from the norm is the design of the kashira, sporting a loop set into the traditional pommel cap. It is depicted similarly in the anime and is certainly an unusual feature. The saya is also fairly simple, the standard black lacquer, adorned with one metal band at the opening, and two more, each a little ways from each end. The tip is also is capped in ornate metal.

Sandai Kitetsu - Demon Splitter Extraordinaire

Sandai Kitetsu - Demon Splitter Extraordinaire

[Click image to view full size]

Overall, this is actually a well done replica. Certainly it does not have the quality or strength of a hand made, sword by any means, so I wouldn’t go sword fighting with it, but for a mass produced replica weapon, it is actually very nicely put together. This one made my white list simply for it’s clean lines, and fairly close attention to detail.

My verdict?

Win.

Just can’t say no to a cursed black sword… 🙂

Roronoa Zolos’ Sandai Kitetsu – [True Swords]

Roronoa Zolos’ Sandai Kitetsu – [Kingdom of Swords]

Roronoa Zolos’ Sandai Kitetsu – [Swords Swords]

23
Oct
08

Cool Replicas – Part 3: The Kusanagi Grass Cutter.

Welcome to the latest entry in my “Cool Replicas” series. Today, I’ll be talking about an interesting anime sword which I like for quite a few of reasons, the most cool (imho) being that the name of this sword actually has a history in Japanese culture. Kinda like the British Excalibur… More on that later.

For now, let me introduce you to a unique shikomizue from the Naruto anime series (one of my favorites) wielded by Sasuke Uchiha, a highly talented young ninja, who later on becomes so entirely corrupted by his need for power that, much like young Anakin Skywalker, he succumbs to the dark side.

This is his signature weapon after his definitive turn to evil; The Kusanagi Grass Cutter sword.

Sasukes Kusanagi Grass Cutter

Sasukes Kusanagi Grass Cutter

[click image to view full size]

Now if you’ve read enough of my posts, you’ll immediately spot two things that I like. Want to take a stab at guessing what they are? Sure, go right ahead. I’ll wait… 🙂

LOL yep. The astute among you might have picked up on my shikomizue reference before, and you would be right. This is very similar in design to staff sword, saya and tsuki designed to look like a single piece of wood when closed. One of my very favorite designs.

The second? OK. For those not so familiar with my taste in weapons, I’ll be nice and give you a hint:

Sasukes Kusanagi Grass Cutter - *BLADE* and saya...

Sasukes Kusanagi Grass Cutter - *BLADE* and saya...

[click image to view full size]

Ok, if you didn’t pick up on it that time, you phail. The blade is the other thing I like on this. Why? BECAUSE IT’S BLACK!!!! Ha! OK. Now that we’ve gotten those little details out of the way, a little more about the sword. One of the first things I noticed was that the saya and tsuki were rectangular in cross section, which is an unusual trait.

Below you can see the detail of the black and white rectangular saya, sporting Sasuke Uchihas clan crest, (the fan in red), and more importantly, the point of the blade, an interesting hybrid between the traditional sweeping Japanese katana point style and the straight cut, sharply angled points we see on modernized/westernized ninjaken today.

Kusanagi Grass Cutter - Saya, Point

Kusanagi Grass Cutter - Saya, Point

[click image to view full size]

Now the great thing about a weapon like this is that it’s pretty hard to mess up, replica wise. Unless the components are really dirt cheap, and it is poorly put together, it is perhaps one of the simplest designs to replicate. All in all, I like this design. Thought it could stand to be a little darker… 🙂

BUT, interestingly enough, I did find another version of this sword, a much darker version, which proved to be not so accurate, though, to their credit, they did not try to pass it off as Sasukes sword, even though it is clearly a blatant rip off:

Kusanagi Grass Cutter - Anime Rip Off

Kusanagi Grass Cutter - Anime Rip Off

[click image to view full size]

Not so great. But now for some trivia. This particular design (in black) did not come out of nowhere. If you are one of the many who only watch anime on the cartoon channel here in the US, and don’t really know where they come from (besides from Japan, obviously) you may not realize that a great many of the popular anime series started of as Manga, or Japanese comics.

In fact most of the popular ones running now, like Naruto and Bleach, both got thier starts as Japanese comic books, and went almost immediately to TV syndication, so that the TV episodes aired almost as soon as a comic story line arc was complete. (Sometimes sooner, which often causes frequent non-storyline related filler arcs, much to my, and many others, chagrin).

Anyway the reason I brought this up is that there is a discrepancy between the Anime version and the Manga version of The Kusanagi sword. The versions we see above are actually the Manga version of the sword. The version that first appears in the Anime is a straight shikomizue (no curve) with a black saya and tsuki (no white lines), and a polished steel blade, quite similar to the black one above (except straight).

OK, so enough with the Anime trivia, on to Japanese folk history. The name of this sword is actually the name of a legendary sword in Japanese culture. The name “Kusanagi Grass Cutter” is actually a Japanese/English mix of the traditional name Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, which literally translates to “Grass cutter sword”.

There is actually a very cool story associated with this legendary sword, I was going to go into, but I won’t bore you with it, this post has gotten too long already. However If you want more details you can click here: Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi

As you can probably imagine, my ideal Kusanagi sword would be a black saya, black tsuki shikomizue, with a straight, black, westernized tanto point blade… mmm… a totally black sword… wait… I think I’m drooling… OK I’m done. I need to get a bib for these kinds of posts… 🙂

*Edit*

An astute reader, Zharkman, was kind enough to point out that my assumption about the last, black sheathed sword being a rip off of Sasukes Kusanagi is actually false, and that it actually came from the anime D. Gray-Man. I went back and looked it up, and lo and behold, I goofed!

The last sword is actually a replica of Mugen, the signature shirasaya of the D. Gray-Man protagonist Yu Kanda. And in that capacity it is actually an excellent likeness. This is what I get for making unfounded assumptions. And for not keeping up on my anime… There are just too many of them… Dagnabbit!

Sasukes Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (Naruto) – [Kingdom of Swords]

Sasukes Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (Naruto) – [Swords, Swords]

Yu Kandas’ Mugen Sword (From D. Gray-Man) – [True Swords]

21
Oct
08

Cool Replicas – Part 2: Benihime

Welcome to the next installment of my miniseries about second gen replicas that are think are improvements of ones I have already posted about. Today we take a look at yet another Zanpakuto from the anime Bleach, Specifically that of Kisuke Urahara. This is another great weapon found by Mozza (thanks again!) called Benihime – The Crimson Princess:

Kisuke Uraharas Zanpakuto - Benihime Shikai

Kisuke Urahara's Zanpakuto - Benihime (Crimson Princess) Shikai

This sword is the Shikai form of Kisukes Zanpakuto Benihime (Crimson Princess), which is a sword cane with a curved handle in its unawakened form. In an earlier post, I had talked a little bit about how I thought this particular design actually had a lot of good practical design point.

I won’t go over its detailed physical attributes again, but I will point out that the other sword was not so much a sucky sword as much as it was not as detailed, accurate and meticulously finished as this one. In this design, you can see a lot more effort has been put into giving it more depth and character.

In this one the canted pommel is much more prominently featured, as is the unusual ricasso. The little triangles attached to the ricasso actually hang from a tassel in the anime, but I suppose it’s a minor detail that is not of much structural significance.

It is difficult to tell from this pic whether this shares the same full tang construction of the first Benihime I posted about, but if it does not it would be an inferior design, though it would make for an interesting contrast. Shame that the pictures are not particularly clear about how well put together this weapon is at a physical level.

If I were a betting creature, I would guess this build is structurally of lesser quality than the other. Which makes this kind of a bittersweet weapon to post about, since even though the it is a much more “accurate” reproduction compared to the other, the other one appeared to be constructed in a way that would still make a superior weapon.

So while It’s aesthetically clearly superior, and gets a good grade on accuracy, fit and finish, the practicality and the durability of it’s construction may leave something to be desired.

Why does it seem like there is always a trade off somewhere… ?

Kisuke Urahara’s Zanpakuto: Benihime Shikai – [Anime Castle]

19
Oct
08

Cool Replicas – Part 1: Zabimaru

The regular readers on this here blog thingy will know that one of my pet peeves is cheap, poor, inaccurate and otherwise needlessly mediocre reproductions of cool weapons that could very easily have been made to much more closely mimic the weapons they were inspired by.

Now I realize that cost is always a factor. And that many repro houses are simply out to make a quick buck off a blockbuster movie, anime or video game, but sometimes I think the lengths to which they go to save said buck makes no sense. A typical example was the first reproduction of the Zanapkuto Zabimaru from the Anime Bleach.

If you will remember, I was clearly not pleased with what they did to it. However I was pleasantly surprised to find another version of it that was a much better match to the anime weapon. And since I also had a couple of readers send me links to improved versions of weapons I had griped about in the past, I thought I’d make a little mini series of posts related to them.

So welcome to the first in the series: Cool Replicas – Part 1: Zabimaru

Renji Abarais Zanpakuto - Zabimaru

Renji Abarai's Zanpakuto - Zabimaru

[click on image to view full size]

Now THIS is a reproduction. This, my friends, is a solid steel version of Zabimaru, replete with all of the original evil spikes, points, and other bladed wickedness that Zabimaru tends to sport.

As you can see from the pic, this version is not a dumbed down version of the blade, as the other one was, and actually does a very good job of reproducing a design that would admittedly be very difficult to manufacture cheaply.

The pic below is of the hilt of Zabimaru, and it’s a good indicator of the quality of the build on this blade. You can see that there is a lot of attention to detail, and a lot of work went into the fit and finish of this replica.

Zabimaru - Hilt

Zabimaru - Hilt

[click on image to view full size]

However the most telling feature is how they captured one of the more difficult to replicate aspects of Zabimaru’s design: The blade spikes. In the Anime, Zabimaru is actually a sectioned blade, and each section is able to move independently, like a blade whip.

Each spike actually coincided with the transition between one segment of blade to the next, and created a very prominent ridge to visually make this distinction. Now the reality of it is that making a real sectioned blade would be almost impossible to manufacture at any kind of reasonable price point in real life.

The way the last repro I looked at handled it was to use a single piece of metal, and just carve out sections of the blade to form little bumps where the spikes were supposed to be… Yes, bumps. (BUMPS?!?! THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE SPIKES!!! YOU HEATHENOUS WRETCHES!!!) OK, ok, just calm down… Whoosaaah… *sigh*

Zabimaru - Good Blade Spikes

Zabimaru - What Blade spikes are SUPPOSED to look like...

[click image to view full size]

Ok… So anyway, as opposed to what the last HACKS and CHARLATANS did, the pic above shows what those designers should have done. The smart thing. The good thing. The kind of thing that brings glory and honor to evil spiked weapons everywhere… 🙂 Add steel blade spikes to either side Zabimarus’ blade to replicate the ridges and spikes of the anime version! These guys are geniuses!

So overall, I’d have to say I’m pretty impressed with this rendition of Zabimaru. And work like this this clearly demonstrates something that I, and many blade enthusiasts like me, have said all along. There is really no need to go the dirt cheap route with a replica blade. Most folks will pay a little more for a well constructed replica, so there is a good business case for making high quality reproduction blades.

Zabimaru - A Replica with Soul...

Zabimaru - A Replica with Soul...

[click image to view full size]

All it takes is for a designer who is interested in quality, as opposed to just churning out trash. And if this replica is any indication, it means there actually exist living, breathing, thinking, non bean counter controlled replica houses who are just as interested in accuracy and quality as in making a buck.

It warms the glowing embers of my heart I tell ya. And that ain’t an easy thing to do…

Zabimaru – [Swords Swords]

16
Oct
08

The Sexiest Xbows on Earth…

So today I have a special treat for you. And you may want to grab a cuppa and relax, cause I’ma be a ranting fool in this post… 😀

A while back, Mozza, one of my buds from the Exotic Automatic Forums, put me onto this site with the sweetest crossbows I have ever seen. (Muchas Gracias Mozz Man!!) I’m talking sexy. Dead sexy. Totally and uncompromising evil, but just so freakin’ sexy you can’t help yourself. Uh huh. You know the ones I’m talking about.

The kinds of crossbows you want to pick black bedspreads and matching, jet black curtains with. The ones you want to bear your evil children. The kinds you will NEVAR take home to your parents… 🙂 ‘Cause they are freaks and you know your folks won’t approve… But you can’t help it. You love them anyway.

I’m sure you are all familiar with the type. The dark, sinister ones you know are probably gonna be bad for you, but you can’t help it ’cause they take you places “normal” weapons can never take you… The ones that will steal your very soul… >:D

LOL I’m sure you all think I’m exaggerating.

OK. I might be. I’m a sucker for a beautifully crafted weaponry. But I’m betting you’ll agree with me about these little pretties once you get to know them. Here, let me introduce you to a couple of my favorites. From awesome designers at Talisman Custom Crossbows:

The Beast

The Beast

[Click Image to view larger size]

This beast, my friends, is a beauty. It’s a rather ornate crossbow with an intricately designed rifle stock. Very highly detailed. Perhaps a little too intricate for my tastes. Especially that rifle stock. But it just so happens they’ve got people like me covered:

The Beast - Pistol Grip

The Beast - Pistol Grip

[Click Image to view larger size]

BAM! Now that’s what I’m talking about. Pistol grips FTW!! And another glamor shot, sans grip:

The Beast - Sans Grip

The Beast - Sans Grip

[Click Image to view larger size]

And now let me introduce you to the more lithe but equally lethal Devils Claw Crossbow:

The Claw

The Devils Claw

[Click Image to view larger size]

Again, definitely not Mr. Magoos Claw… This one I find interesting because it almost seems… alive. Like a Velociraptor in mid-stride… Here’s another shot that kind of reinforces that “hunting killer” perception:

The Claw - The predator about to strike...

The Devils Claw - The predator about to strike...

[Click Image to view larger size]

And as if that wasn’t enough, the “Devils Claw”, also has what i’m gonna call the “Stinging Tail” pose:

The Claw - Stinger at the ready...

The Devils Claw - Stinger at the ready...

[Click Image to view larger size]

A little more forward curve, and I’d be thinking Stingray, or scorpion… Except this is better. Neither the stingray or scorpion actually has a projectile stinger… 😉

Now, these, my friends, are crossbows. Not your run-of-the-mill, muscle-bound crossbows with the X-hundred pound pull, trying to impress us with brute force.  Oh no.  Not these. These baby’s are so elegant, So lithe, so graceful and seductive, that just cocking one of them on a medieval battlefield may very well have caused all of your opponents to keel over, en mass, from multiple nerdgasms…

OK, so maybe that was a little exaggeration. But the thing is, I am really impressed by these crossbows. Not so much because of their aesthetics, even though they are quite exceptional in their own right. I am really more a fan of form over function, and definitely more biased towards simplicity of design than intricacy.

On any other weapon, I would consider this level of ornate design to be a bit over the top. However, the most remarkable thing about these weapons is that they are not just about the art. They are mechanically… Brilliant.  Can’t think of a better word. And that is what has me utterly and thoroughly impressed.

Not only are these crossbows works of art, but the designers have managed to integrate that artistry into the operating mechanism of these crossbows. These are not just basic mechanisms with “artsy stuff” thrown on top. The mechanics IS the art, and vice versa. This is what really blows me away about these xbows.

Here, let me give you a few examples. Look at the cocking mechanism on the Beast:

The Beast - Cocking Claws

The Beast - Cocking Claws

[Click Image to view larger size]

The Beast- Windlass Gear/Cocking/Trigger Mech.

The Beast- Windlass Gear/Cocking/Trigger Mech.

[Click Image to view larger size]

Dual, recessed chain, windlass/cranequin driven, cocking claws?!? Heck, freakin’ Yes! This is the kind of mechanical design I love with a passion!! If I were a swearing man, I’d be hurling excited expletives like beads at Mardi Gras…

Even the more mundane parts of the crossbow look like they were (probably quite gleefully) given functional artistic flair:

The Beast - Stacked Limb Bow Prod assy

The Beast - Stacked Limb Bow Prod assy

[Click Image to view larger size]

The Beast - Bowstring mount

The Beast - Bowstring mount

[Click Image to view larger size]

I mean look at that. Yes, it’s a dragon head, but its a functional dragon head. And yes, my love of dragons my be biasing my interpretation of what this is supposed to be. I’ll admit it. But I don’t care. Just suck it up. :P.

Anywhoo the mechanics of the Devils Claw are no exception. Take a look at it’s cocking mechanism.

The Claw - Cocking/Trigger assy

The Claw - Cocking/Trigger assy

I mean seriously. Never has the mechanical advantage of lever style crossbow cocking mechanism looked this good. Trust me. And that’s the whole point. Talisman appears to have taken the fundamental mechanics of the crossbow, and molded it into art. Amazing art at that.

Now I’ll grant you that, since I see all kinds of junk designs day after day, I’m probably easy to impress. But in this case, It’s a fair bet my enthusiasm is not misplaced. I could be wrong.

But I doubt it…

The Beast – [Talisman Custom Crossbows]

The Devils Claw – [Talisman Custom Crossbows]

14
Oct
08

Another Futuristic Axe…

I thought I’d post today about another “future axe” that I ran across a while back. Perhaps not as outlandish as the futuristic oval axe I posted about a while back, but still out there:

Futuristic Axe

Futuristic Axe

This is supposedly a futuristic axe. Looks to me like a High Guard force lance with a blade attached to one end. (From the Sci-Fi series “Andromeda” for those who didn’t get the reference 🙂 ). For some reason I can totally see Romy using this. Actually i’d love to see Romy use something like this. 😀 but I digress…

What we have here is a really fancy force lance looking shaft, to which is bolted/riveted a sleeve of some sort, atop which sits a rather flimsy looking slotted plate, to which an interestingly contoured blade has been riveted/bolted. Opposite the blade we have… Spines. Spikes. The guard from a hedge trimmer. I Dunno.

Anyway you probably already have a good idea about what I’m gonna say next. So I’ll summarize. Axe shaft: OK. Axe eye/cheek/sleeve assembly: rivet junk. Spines: Meh. Axe head… Well that I have to give them a little credit for that.

Yes, the way the axe head is attached to the shaft is junk. However the shape of the blade on this axe is another story. i actually found it rather interesting. It is formed of three straight edges on the front, and one curved one on the back, with two trapezoidal voids cut out of the middle of the blade.

The end result I found quite eye pleasing, with a sharp top point, and an inward canting straight blade out front.  Clearly, having no curves on the front edge of the axe, this would make for a bad general purpose axe design, and given the inherent weakness of it’s construction it might not even make a good combat axe, save for poking the playground bully’s eyes out with the spikes on it’s spine.

But from an aesthetic point of view, I kind of like it. What saddens me, however is that all of these so called futuristic axes have one thing in common: Iffy construction. Barring the possibility that the pommel of this weapon is a real live, honest to goodness force lance, If this is what weapon construction is reduced to in a few thousand years, well…

I weep for the future….

Futuristic Axe – [Anime Castle]

12
Oct
08

Another “movie inspired” weapon…

So here we are again, another day, another weapon. Todays weapon is yet another example of a movie weapon, suggested by a reader, G-Man. And I am happy to say that this time around, there is a legitimate connection between the weapon and the movie it is inspired by:

Batman Begins Cane Sword

Batman Begins Cane Sword

[click image to view full size]

OK. So what you are looking at is a “Batman Begins” Cane sword. Yeah. This is a replica of the cane sword used by the Protagonist Ra’s Al Ghul during his confrontation with the Bats in the Movie Batman Begins. At last! A weapon that actually came from the movie!! Some auspicious alignment of the stars must have occurred!! Or something… 😉

I must say it’s actually not a bad looking piece of kit at all. An all black cane, with an all black cast metal (heh) head, with a rounded globe head, and a ridged cylindrical grip… I find it quite aesthetically pleasing.

The stainless steel blade is also not bad either. The long, narrow, fast, light blade is  more or less standard fare for sword cane applications, and this one is no exception. Except this one is of a slightly different design than usual, sporting what looks like a double edged rapier blade, as opposed to the normal single edge.

Not bad at all, though with a blade so slim, the lack of a thick spine does raise strength concerns. But in a Cane staff this is of less importance than in a regular “full duty” sword. Speaking of which, I like the choice of shape for this grip, the IMHO a ball is a much better end than the ovoid, hook, snake dog/wolf head or simple hoop I often see in these designs.

Granted, cast metal is not the ideal grip material, but for the purposes of inconspicuous carry, it serves it’s purpose well. My only concern would be how far down into the grip the tang extends. Assuming it goes all the way to the ball, I’d say it is likely to be a fairly durable design.

But the fun doesn’t end there. The cylindrical sheath that makes up the rest of the cane actually locks in place using a small latch on the side of the blade, just below the grip. A nice touch if you ask me. Many traditional cane swords rely on a threaded insert, which, while strong, does take forever to take apart.

The latch idea is considerable faster, though it does comes with the downside of being weaker than “screw on” sheathing. But so long as you don’t intend to be whacking the various local hooligans daily with your Batman Begins sword cane, this little detail should be of little concern.

Now a little word of warning. Most of the versions I saw out there were oput together with the cheap cast alloy metal and stainless steel blade versions. They will do fine for display purposes, and casual use, but if you really want to walk around with something of higher quality, I’ve got just the thing.

I found a version of this sword cane floating around from Windlass Steelcrafts, that is said to use solid aluminum for the grip and sheath, and a high carbon steel rapier blade. This version is probably a bit more expensive, but would absolutely be the bees knees. Definitely the version you want to get if you can afford it.

So, all told, I like it. I really like it. If I were looking for another Sword cane, (as opposed to another shikomizue) this would certainly be the one I’d get. After all, If it was good enough for the ninja that trained the Batman, who am I to fault it…? 😀

Batman Begins Sword Cane (Windlass Steelcrafts Version) – [888KnivesRUs]

Batman Begins Sword Cane – [eCrater]


04
Oct
08

Cool Kunai…

If you were following my last few posts, you may remember a comment I made about the cutlery industries use of “Metal” (aka cheap cast alloys) to form certain sword parts (usually the hilt), in spite of the fact that steel is relatively cheap.

Now I will readily admit that steel is much harder to work into complex shapes than it is to case an alloy, but still, there are some times when steel is the right thing to do. Like with these Kunai:

Red Kunai

Red Kunai

[click image to view full size]

Now the beauty of these kunai is that they have been designed for throwing use, which usually means all steel (usually a high carbon or spring steel) construction, and a properly balanced design. Now these  Kunai have been modeled after those used in the Naruto series, and barring the use of a red grip wrap as opposed to the white wraps used in the anime, are a fairly close approximation.

But more importantly, notwithstanding that this particular kunai design is not really the ideal for throwing (Yes, you heard right, in spite of all the anime hype, they are not the best throwing knife design) the fact remains that they will probably be made from steel. Sweet, sweet steel.

No alloys, no resins, no cheapo construction… Well maybe a *little* cheapo construction methodolgy, but not with cheap materials, making this one of the best replica anime Kunai that I am aware of today. And IMHO, the fact that it is steel alone, would probably make it worth having.

And incidentally for the curious among you, i’ll explain my whole “not the ideal throwing implement” comment. An ideal throwing knife should be able to be thrown either from the tip or the grip. This design will make a great tip thrower, but the large abrupt ring on the grip increases the chances that it would hang up in the hand if thrown from the grip.

that ring could also makes it a little harder to balance, (which is important for other reasons) though that could theoretically be figured out during the design stage. The topic of what makes an ideal throwing knife is one I think I will dedicate a post to in the future because it is quite the interesting one. But I digress.

My point is, I really wish knife designers could do the same for every knife they designed and made. Real grips, not alloys, proper steels, etc. I know it’s an unreasonable request, but if they did, they would make lots of folks, like me, happier than a foody at a food fair…

We’d also be perpetually broke for the rest of our natural lives, but so long as I got to adorn the walls of my cave with lots and lots of cool, well constructed swords, I don’t think I’d mind all that much… 😀

Red Kunai – [True Swords]




October 2008
M T W T F S S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Subscribe The Dark Realm!

Add to My AOL